Maintaining My Sanity & Leading By Example: Why My Gym Time In Non-Negotiable

I have been active for as long as I can remember. My parents always encouraged my brother and me to be active. It didn’t even have to be organized sports specifically, we just had to go outside and move. And in the decades since childhood, that love for movement has remained steadfast. I believe it’s a large part of what led to my career as a physical therapist. The thought of sitting at a desk for hours on end never appealed to me the way a physical profession did.

As a child, I took to park sports. I didn’t excel at anything specific, but I liked all of it. So, every season I chose a park sport to play. I’ve played basketball, volleyball, soccer, and softball. Softball was always a favorite of mine. (So much so that I joined a team my classmates and I formed while in grad school.) In high school, my dad encouraged me to try cross country. As a family, we had been running the Crescent City Classic since I was 10 and he figured I may enjoy it as a formal sport. Admittedly, it was not love at first run but over time it became such a passion that I still run to this day. My miles are fewer and far between, but running will always be my first love.

Years later, and once I had already begun my PT career, my then-boyfriend (now husband) invited me to his local CrossFit gym for a fund-raising event. I was admittedly apprehensive. After all, I was an endurance athlete, not a strength athlete. Plus, the people there seemed intense. He assured me that I was capable of doing the workout and that it would be fun. That day I did my very first of a decade’s worth of CrossFit workouts. I was sorer than I had ever been (even more so than after my first marathon), but I was HOOKED!

It’s been 13 years since that first workout, and I’m still as hooked as the first day … maybe even more so. There are countless reasons why I love CrossFit, but the two main reasons why are the community and the mental shift it brought forth in me. Admittedly, in my high school and collegiate years, I viewed weight on the scale as a sign of overall “fitness.” I would venture to say it’s a challenging mentality that a lot of distance runners struggle with. In short, “added weight equates to slower run times.” While this has been disproven, it’s an assumption that has led many endurance athletes down a path of demise. I was there. I was roughly 35 pounds less than I weigh now, with very little body fat, running at paces that I deemed successful and completely unhappy. I had zero body confidence, constantly fighting nagging injuries, and eventually, my runs started suffering. I was not “fit.” In fact, I may have been the least healthy I have ever been at that point. Then I found CrossFit.

Through the now 13 years of CrossFit, I have learned that in order for my body to properly perform, it must also be properly fueled. I have learned that fats and carbs are not bad but are actually a vital piece of the puzzle for optimal athletic performance. I have learned that being strong and muscular is better than “skinny” even if the number on the scale is higher. And I have learned that pushing my body to do things I never thought it could do has helped me also forge mental and emotional toughness, which has helped me face some of life’s more difficult challenges over the years, including a difficult bout with postpartum anxiety. I have learned that we can change the narrative, especially for our young daughters. We can teach them that overall health is more important than appearance or physique and that you don’t have to be a size 0 to have a beautiful body. We can teach them to be proud of their bodies for what they can do, not just what they look like. We can teach them to prioritize movement, which has countless health benefits (mental, emotional, and physical).

But CrossFit may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s ok! Movement comes in ENDLESS forms. Maybe you like walking, or Zumba, or Hot Yoga. Maybe you prefer hiking or something else in nature. Maybe you’re a cyclist or swimmer. Whatever it may be, I hope that you remain healthy and active for as long as you desire!


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